healthy-hair-and-nails

Like any other part of the body, nutrients from the food we eat give us healthy hair and nails. A healthy diet, based on whole-foods and rich in nutrients is an excellent basis for strong nails and shiny, lustrous hair but a poor diet can quickly lead to weak, splitting nails and dull, brittle hair. This is not just about vanity though! The appearance of our hair and nails is an excellent barometer of our internal health. Following the advice below will therefore not only give you healthy nails and hair, but will benefit your overall health as well!

 

Key Nutrients for Healthy Hair and Nails

Hair is a fast-growing tissue and so are its nutrient demands from the body; key nutrients for building healthy hair include protein, iron, and b vitamins, while omega-3 fats and vitamin A are nature’s conditioners. Your nails also need a good supply of nutrients including protein, vitamins and minerals to stay strong and healthy. The fingernails can often be the first place to show visible signs of mineral deficiencies, for example white spots can be a sign of zinc deficiency and vertical ridges can be a sign you need more iron.

Protein

Hair and nails are actually made of protein (a protein called keratin), so getting adequate, good quality protein is crucial for providing the building blocks for healthy, strong hair and nails. Top protein sources for hair and nails are eggs, fish, chicken, turkey and plenty of plant proteins such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, nuts, seeds and tofu. Aim to include some protein with all your meals, but limit animal protein and be sure to include plenty of the plant sources.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is needed by the body to make a substance called sebum, which is an oil secreted by the sebaceous glands of the hair and acts as a natural moisturiser for the scalp and conditioner for your hair. Without it hair becomes dry and the scalp dry, itchy and flaky. Orange and yellow vegetables such as sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, dark leafy greens and tropical fruit like mango and papaya are good sources. Beauty & Go SKIN BRILLIANCE also contains vitamin A.

beauty-drink-skin-brilliance

 

Iron

Blood flow to your hair and extremities is dependent upon adequate iron in the body, and iron deficiency anaemia is a common cause of hair loss. The hair follicles and roots receive their nutrients via the blood, and inadequate iron levels mean this vital supply is reduced, which can disrupt the hair growth cycle. Iron deficiency can also cause nails to split, become brittle and flattened and is associated with the condition koilonychias, which is a nail disease characterised by spoon-shaped nails. Include plenty of dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, beans, seeds, fish, chicken and small amounts of grass-fed red meat no more than once or twice per week.

Biotin

Biotin or vitamin B7 is one of the less well-known B-vitamins, but is a real beauty hero. It has long been known to strengthen the hooves of animals like horses and the same applies to our nails. Studies have shown that biotin supplements strengthen brittle fingernails, improve firmness and hardness of the nail, nail thickness and reduce splitting (1,2). Biotin is also present in the hair follicles and a lack can lead to brittle hair. There are not many food sources, but peanuts and eggs contain good amounts, Swiss chard, other leafy greens and wholegrains contain some and Beauty & Go SKIN BRILLIANCE drink contains biotin.

Zinc

Zinc is needed for protein synthesis and cell growth in the body so is essential to healthy hair and nails, both helping with repair and boosting growth. A deficiency can lead to hair loss and a dry flaky scalp along with white spots on fingernails. The best sources are seafood, nuts, seeds, beans, mushrooms, cocoa and lean meat in small amounts. Alcohol and caffeine both block absorption, so cutting back on these will also help keep your levels up.

Omega-3 Fats

Omega-3 fats are found in the cells lining the scalp and secrete oils to keep the hair and scalp hydrated. They also have anti-inflammatory effects, so help to soothe scalp problems. The number one best source is oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, herrings and sardines. Good plant sources are flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts.

Beauty Superfoods

super-food-hair-nail

  • Wholegrains like brown rice and oats provide zinc, iron and B vitamins
  • Nuts – like walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts contain zinc and healthy fats
  • Water – hair is 25% water and gets dry if dehydrated just like the rest of the body, so drinking 1.5-2 litres everyday will help you achieve lustrous hair.
  • Flaxseeds – the best veggie source of omega-3, just 1 tsp a day will help improve the health of your hair and nails
  • Dark Green Vegetables – spinach, broccoli and other green leafy vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin A, which acts as a powerful natural conditioner for our hair. They also provide iron.
  • Salmon – It’s hard to beat salmon for its omega-3 fatty acids, high quality protein, vitamin B12 and iron.
  • Beans – provide protein to promote hair growth and zinc and biotin.

Your Beauty Menu

Breakfast:

Overnight Chia Oats with banana and dates

Put 2 tbsp chia seeds, 2 tbsp oats and 250ml almond milk in a jar. Add 1 tsp ground flaxseed and either a finely chopped or mashed date or 1 tsp date syrup. Leave in the fridge overnight. The next morning add ½ banana mashed and top with berries and flaked almonds.

Snack:

Beauty & Go SKIN BRILLIANCE, 10 almonds

Lunch:

Salmon & quinoa salad with baby spinach, herbs and pumpkin seeds

Snack:

Beauty & Go SKIN BRILLIANCE

Dinner:

Superfood frittata

your-beauty-enu-hair-nails

Other Tips for Healthy Hair and Nails

 

  • Eliminate nutrient-depleting foods and drinks. Saturated and trans-fats inhibit the action of omega-3 fatty acids. Sugar can deplete the body of minerals as well as promoting ageing processes in the body, so avoid  refined sugars.
  • Exercise increases circulation to the scalp and extremities, including the fingers, which helps deliver nutrients and oxygen.

tecnologia wearable

whasing-hairdrying-hair

  • Stress causes release of the hormone cortisol from the adrenal glands and reduced circulation, both of which can lead to hair and nail problems over time. Try an Indian head massage for stress relief and increasing circulation to the scalp.
  • Avoid blow-drying too much, allow hair to dry naturally a couple of times per week if possible and avoid hair straighteners.
  • Washing hair too often can strip it of natural oils leaving it dry, as can harsh products containing chemicals. Try to wash your hair every other day and avoid products containing SLS.
  • Avoid harsh nails treatments such as acrylic nails. Always use a nail-strengthening product as bare nails break more easily and use acetone free nail polish remover.

whasing-hair

nail-polish

  • Watch out for shoulder bags snagging long hair every time you put it on your shoulder! Simply tying hair back or switching to a hand-held tote will help avoid bag-snag!
  • Include a daily Beauty & Go SKIN BRILLIANCE drink as part of your beauty regime, which contains biotin and vitamin A for strong healthy hair and nails, along with collagen and a host of other skin-feeding nutrients.

 

References
1. Floersheim GL. Treatment of brittle fingernails with biotin. Z Hautkr 1989;64:41-8 [in German].
2. Hochman LG, Scher RK, Meyerson MS. Brittle nails: response to daily biotin supplementation. Cutis 1993;51:303-5.

fitness trend

Most of us have been fitness and health focused for January, but going into February those good intentions can start to waver. In fact, over a third of gym memberships are abandoned by the end of January! This week, I am therefore going to provide some inspiration to keep you going with a post dedicated to fitness trends for 2016.

Just to be clear, a fitness trend is not the same as a fitness ‘fad’ – a fad is a phenomenon that becomes very popular and is taken up with great enthusiasm at the beginning, but then fades away after a short time. A trend on the other hand, lasts and creates a long-term impact on the way people think, behave or in this case exercise!

Of course in order to achieve a healthy body and mind, we’ll always need to put the work in, there are no quick fixes! The winning formula for all round health and fitness is to combine cardiovascular and resistance exercise with something like yoga for the mind-body benefits. There are however, some savvy tips, gadgets and methods to help make life a little easier!

10 ways that regular exercise will improve your life!

Here’s a quick reminder of ten ways that regular exercise will improve your life if you need any extra inspo:

  • Improves mood

    Improves mood and reduces stress – nothing beats that endorphin boost after a good workout! In fact, exercise has been shown in studies to be as effective as medication for mild-moderate depression!

  • Better sleep

    Regular exercise improves sleep quality

  • More energy

    Movement creates energy!

  • Boosts your immune system

    Moderate exercise does, over-train and it has the opposite effect, so be careful!

  • Weight management

    Especially good for maintaining a healthy weight

  • Strength and muscles

    Builds strength and muscles – resistance exercise in particular

  • Diabetes & Cancer

    Reduces type 2 diabetes risk and risk of certain cancers.

  • Cardiovascular health

    Keeps your heart and blood vessels healthy, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol and reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke

  • Joints and bones

    Keeps, joints and bones healthy and strong and improves flexibility

  • Digestion

    Great for digestion – keeps things moving!

Wearable Technology

tecnologia wearable

Wearable technology such as fitness bands and smart watches are a fantastic way to motivate yourself to keep moving – anyone who’s been reading my previous posts will know that I’m a fan. The total market for wearable tech is estimated to be worth £4 billion in 2016, making this the number one trend according to the latest American College of Sports Medicine Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends (1). They are such a great way to track your progress and also make fitting activity into a busy schedule much easier. Exercise doesn’t have to be a defined workout or exercise class, it can be something you do in shorter bursts over the day, which works well for anyone short on time. Not only do these devices track your activity levels, but they also monitor your sleep patterns, which is another much neglected area of health these days.

Any pointers?

The only drawback is that it can become a bit obsessive, checking your steps every five minutes to see how many more you’ve clocked up! I would also discourage using the calorie counting function, as for one it’s extremely laborious inputting everything you eat and secondly calorie counting is never a good idea – it’s much better to focus on the quality of your diet.

HIIT

HIIT

High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT has been around for a few years now but remains a strong trend for 2016 due to its effectiveness and the fact that it can be done in a relatively short time compared with other cardiovascular workouts. It involves short bursts of exercise at maximum capacity interspersed with recovery periods of low intensity exercise. It typically takes around 20-30 minutes to achieve the same benefits that you would achieve in an hour of normal continuous exercise, so is a great time saver and perfect to squeeze in before work or in your lunch break.

Any pointers?

The high intensity means that you have to be fit and healthy, so this is not suitable for people with injuries or medical conditions. There may also be a higher risk of getting an injury when exercising at this level, so starting off in a supervised class or with a trainer is sensible until you are well practiced.

Body Weight Training

Body Weight Training

This is nothing new but has gained in popularity recently for several reasons. Body weight training simply means resistance exercise using your own body weight instead of machines or weights, so think push-ups, squats, lunges etc.

The rise in popularity is due to the fact that it gets good results but is also essentially free and can be done anywhere, anytime, such as at home or in the park.

Any pointers?

You have to be self-disciplined to exercise at home on your own, but some people can so it’s just a case of knowing yourself and your limits. Technique is important, so again I would advise at least starting off with a trainer or instructor to make sure you get this right.

Yoga

yoga

It may have been around for centuries, but yoga is still up there as a popular fitness trend for 2016. With a wealth of new styles and techniques coming out all the time, this prevents boredom and keeps it popular. As well as boosting strength and flexibility, the benefits of yoga go so much further and include stress reduction, increased happiness and wellbeing, inner peace and deep relaxation, helping you be more present and mindful, improving balance, posture, protecting the spine and chronic pain relief.

Any pointers?

None, so get that mat out!

Doing something you enjoy

your-sport

Finally, not so much a trend but common sense to keep you exercising is simply choosing something you genuinely enjoy. Whether its going for a walk or bike ride with friends or family, dancing, horse riding or playing a team sport, if you actually enjoy exercise statistics repeatedly show you are much more likely to keep it in your life long-term.

References
1) Thompson, Walter R. Ph.D., FACSM WORLDWIDE SURVEY OF FITNESS TRENDS FOR 2016: 10th Anniversary Edition. ACSM’S Health & Fitness Journal 2015 19:9-18

meditation-sunset

Meditation and mindfulness, once associated with ‘hippy culture’ are fast becoming mainstream and fashionable. Classes are popping up all over the place, some workplaces are using the techniques to improve employee wellbeing and productivity, and the NHS is now using mindfulness therapies for conditions including depression or anxiety.

Most of us have a vague idea about what mindfulness and meditation are, with images of monks, the Dalai Lama and the idea of inner peace probably springing to mind! What they are exactly on the other hand, and how to incorporate them into our daily lives remains elusive for most people. This week, I am going to tell you how to do this and also why you should be doing it – the benefits are pretty mind-blowing!

yoga-beach-man-woman

Amazing Health Benefits

  1. Reduces stress levels and anxiety
  2. Improves happiness and wellbeing
  3. Enhances relaxation
  4. Improves sleep
  5. Improves energy levels
  6. Lows blood pressure
  7. Boosts the immune system
  8. Can help with weight loss
  9. Regular practice can slow down the ageing process

These techniques can also enhance your life even if you are feeling great already! In fact, successful businessmen and women have used meditation to further their success and it has been shown to enhance problem solving ability and creativity. Other interesting research in the field, has found lower reoffending rates in criminals who are taught meditation and improved behaviour, learning and attendance amongst school children.

What is Mindfulness?

Modern life has a tendency to make us rush around, often multi-tasking, feeling stressed or on ‘autopilot’ whilst worrying about all the other things we should or shouldn’t be doing. In other words our minds are constantly busy and we are often distracted. Mindfulness is basically the opposite of this; it is about being fully present in the moment.

One definition of mindfulness is

“a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations”.

Another good way to understand the concept is to think about how you feel when you are totally absorbed in an activity you enjoy – perhaps playing a sport or game, cooking or reading a bedtime story to your child – you are completely present and undistracted, all of your focus is on what you are doing, and there are no thoughts racing through your mind distracting you.

woman-taking-shower

A good way to start introducing mindfulness into your life, is to choose an activity you do every day – it could be having a shower, brushing your teeth or your commute to work – and practice mindfulness for the duration of that activity. (This is one of the great advantages of mindfulness – you can literally practice it anywhere, anytime).

Focus on your five senses; simply ask yourself, what can I see, what do I hear, can I smell or taste anything and what am I touching – you might feel the seat or ground beneath you supporting you, for example. When worries or thoughts pop up, simply bring your attention gently back to your five senses and the present.

Meditation

Meditation takes this to the next level, allowing you to reach deep levels of relaxation for the body and mind. In this deeply relaxed state, healing, regeneration and re-energising take place on a cellular level. You feel rested, refreshed and soothed in a way that no amount of sleep or chilling out in front of the TV will ever give you.

Regular meditation will help you to be more mindful during your day, and practicing mindfulness will enhance your meditation practice. Eventually over time, with regular practice of both, the benefits spill over into your everyday life. You become less at the mercy of external factors, in other words more resilient to and better able to cope with stressful situations (an inevitable part of life!).

 man-breathing-relax

Breathing Meditation

A breathing meditation involves focusing attention on your breath, to the exclusion of everything else. With practice this quietens the mind, as you will not be thinking about anything else, apart from the breathing. This allows your brain to have a much-needed rest from the constant chatter going on the rest of the time. This allows rest and relaxation to take place on an incredibly deep level.

At first, you will probably find that your mind is very busy and wanders a lot, this is perfectly normal and the last thing you want to do is get stressed about it or try to force it to be quiet (impossible!) Instead, when a thought arises, observe that thought, then imagine it floating away like a cloud in the sky and bring the focus gently back to your breath as many times as you need to.

TIP: The brain is like a muscle and needs training, so the more you practice the quieter the mind becomes and the easier meditation becomes. As with exercise though, if you don’t use it you lose it, so meditation is something to build in to your routine, just like healthy eating or exercise.

You will feel the most benefits if you practice most days or at least a few times per week. Many people find that if they choose the same time of day to meditate they are more likely to stick to it.

A Simple Breathing Meditation

  1. Find a quiet place, where you won’t be disturbed and turn off your phone!
  2. Sit in a comfortable upright position – either cross-legged in the traditional lotus position or in a chair if you prefer your back to be supported (don’t lie down as you are more likely to fall asleep!)
  3. Close your eyes and bring your focus to your breathing.
  4. Breathe naturally in and out through the nose, observing the breath entering and leaving the nostrils and allowing any tension to leave your body with each exhalation.
  5. For the next 5-10 minutes, keep your focus and attention on your breath. Each time your mind wanders away from the breath and starts worrying, daydreaming or thinking, bring it gently back to focusing on the breath again.
  6. Start with 5-10 minutes and over time aim to build up to 15-30 minutes.

 

group-doing-yoga-relax-meditation

Other Types of Meditation

There are many different types of meditation and different ways to practice.

Transcendental Meditation (TM) is the most researched method with over 600 studies having been carried out; Transcendence (Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal) is a great book outlining all this incredible research. It does require a 4-day course to learn the technique, for more information and free introductory talks, you can visit the official TM website: http://.tm.org/home

Mindfulness meditation is another great method and some fantastic courses are run by the Mindfulness Project: http://www.londonmindful.com. They also have courses on mindful eating, mindfulness for pain, happiness, parenting and on-line courses are available for anyone outside of London.

new-year-decalogue-beauty-and-go2

Get back on track after the excesses of the past few weeks by following my top ten ‘commandments’ below to help you regain your health, energy and figure.

 

fad-diet1. Thou shalt not be tempted by the latest fad diet

While the promise of rapid weight loss can be especially alluring at this time of year, fad diets simply don’t work and research shows that people regain the weight, and often a bit extra!

2. Thou shalt eat regularly

Regular eating is essential for balancing your appetite, energy levels and even your mood. Skipping meals doesn’t help you lose weight in the long run; people who eat breakfast every day and eat regularly are slimmer and healthier than those with irregular eating patterns.

fit3. Thou shalt be active

A sedentary lifestyle was in the headlines last year for being on a par with smoking and poor diet as a threat to health. It’s not just about sweating it out at the gym, it’s about being active over the day as well and avoiding long periods of sitting.

4. Thou salt avoid empty calories

Alcohol, fizzy drinks, sugar and refined foods such as white bread provide pure energy with little or no nutrients, adding nothing beneficial to your diet, just lots of calories.

salmon5. Thou shalt not cut carbs

We need healthy carbs for energy, to feel full and for the many beneficial nutrients they contain. Avoid the white ones but include oats, sweet potato, quinoa, lentils, beans and whole-grains every day especially at breakfast and lunch to give you energy for the day

6. Thou shalt eat less meat

Another big headline of 2015 was that processed meats and too much red meat may increase the risk of disease. Avoid processed meats like bacon, sausages, ham, salami and limit good quality red meat such as lean steak to once or twice per week. Save money, your health and the planet in the process! Eat more plant proteins instead such as nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, chickpeas, tofu and quinoa

pear-raspberry7. Thou shalt limit processed foods

Processed foods contribute 80% of the total salt we eat and are also packed with sugar, unhealthy fats and chemical additives, plus processing usually removes beneficial nutrients. The less you eat the better, instead base your diet on whole-foods.

8. Thou shalt eat 7 fruit and vegetables per day

5 was always intended to be the minimum, 7 is the optimum for health and happiness and even more is fine! Fruit and veg are low in fat and calories, so help with weight loss, high in antioxidants to protect your skin, fibre for digestion and a host of disease fighting vitamins and minerals. Eat the rainbow as each colour provides different nutrients.

daily-beauty-and-go9. Thou shalt drink 2 litres of water per day

Drinking 500ml of water before meals has been shown to reduce the amount eaten and lead to weight loss. Water also hydrates the body and skin and dehydration is the quickest route to dull skin, low energy and lack of concentration.

10. Thou shalt enjoy a daily Beauty & Go

Include 1-3 daily as part of your health and beauty regime, to provide skin plumping collagen and MacroAntioxidants, which protect you, and your skin against free radical damage and ageing. The Detox drink will help you and your skin recover from festive excesses, whilst Vitality will give you an energy boost when you need it.

postres-sanos

Deserts and sweet treats are one of the great pleasures at this time of year. Unfortunately most are packed with refined sugars and other ingredients, which are not great for our skin, our general health or our waistlines in excessive amounts. The good news is that you can enjoy deserts and stay healthy at the same time – yes really! Below are some recipes for healthy, nutritious deserts with health benefits for you and your skin!

Avocado & Chocolate Mousse

Avocado-Chocolate-Mousse

The avocado in this delicious chocolate mousse is rich in vitamin E and healthy monounsaturated fats, which help your skin retain moisture. Chia seeds provide more essential fats, protective antioxidants and minerals. Cocoa has stress relieving benefits and can also improve skin condition, as well as being an amazing source of antioxidants. Natural sugars are provided by the dates and banana, so there is no need for adding any sugar or sweetener.

Serves 4

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 3 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 4 medjool dates (remove stones)
  • A pinch of pink salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • Raspberries or other berries to decorate
  1. Simply peel the avocado and banana, discarding the stone of the avocado, and chop into chunks
  2. Add along with all the other ingredients (except berries) and blend everything together until smooth and creamy
  3. Add water to thin to desired consistency
  4. Pour into small bowls or ramekins and decorate with berries

 

 

Poached Winter Fruits with Cashew Cream

Poached-Winter-Fruits-with-Cashew-Cream

Cashew nuts are another brilliant source of vitamin E and healthy fats, along with minerals zinc, iron and magnesium, for an energy boost. Soaking nuts in water makes them easier to digest and the nutrients become more available to the body. The different fruits provide vitamin c for collagen formation and to help ward off winter sniffles, along with plenty of fibre for healthy digestion. Cinnamon helps balance blood sugar.

Serves 4

  • 2 pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
  • 8 Dried apricots
  • 8 Dried prunes
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 cloves
  • Juice of 1 orange and zest of ½ the orange
  • 100g cashew nuts
  • 2 tsp vanilla powder
  1. Soak the cashew nuts in a bowl of filtered water for 30 mins to an hour, depending on how much time you have
  2. Meanwhile prepare the fruit by adding the pears, dried fruits, spices, orange juice and zest to a pan with about 2 tbsp water. Cover and cook gently until the pears are soft, about 15-20 mins. Remove the lid and reduce the liquid until it is thick and syrupy.
  3. Remove the cashews from the water but reserve the liquid, add to a hand blender with the vanilla powder and 1-2 tbsp of the reserved water. Blend until smooth, adding more water as necessary until you have a thick ‘cream’.
  4. Serve the fruits warm in bowls, removing the spices first, with a generous dollop of the cashew cream.

 

Banana Nice-cream

 Banana-Nice-cream

This is a wonderful, healthy, dairy-free alternative to conventional ice cream and ridiculously easy to make! It is also free from sugar and the bananas are a fantastic source of potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium and vitamin C. Cinnamon is optional but makes the nice-cream and bit more festive as well as helping to balance blood sugar levels. This goes well with Christmas pudding, anything else you would have ice cream with, or simply on its own topped with nuts. You can even have it for breakfast, I love it on buckwheat pancakes drizzled with raw chocolate sauce!

Serves 2

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1-2 tbsp almond milk
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon (optional)
  1. Peel and slice the bananas, place in a Tupperware container and put in the feezer overnight
  2. The next morning, remove from freezer, add to a blender with a splash of almond milk and the cinnamon if using, and blend until smooth.
  3. Serve and enjoy!

 


 

Sugar-Free Spelt Carrot Cake

Spelt is an ancient variety of wheat, higher in nutrients and lower in gluten, which is the protein some people find difficult to digest. Spelt is high in fibre, a good source of protein and rich in minerals and vitamin B3. It is great for bread making and general baking and can be used in place of wholemeal flour in most recipes. The carrots in this cake are a brilliant source of the antioxidant and skin protector beta-carotene, also great for the immune system and healthy eyes. Pecan nuts provide healthy fats, zinc, manganese and vitamin B1.

Cake

  • 150g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp pink salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 180g grated carrot
  • 1 very ripe banana, chopped
  • 50g pecan nuts, chopped
  • 50g plump raisins and/or sultanas

Topping (optional)

  • 4 tbsp cream cheese, tofu cream cheese or thick coconut yogurt
  • 1 tbsp fresh orange juice (omit if using coconut yoghurt)
  • grated rind of ½ orange
  • pecan halves to decorate

Sugar-Free-Spelt-Carrot-Cake

  1. Mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, and spices together in a bowl
  2. Stir in the eggs and oil and mix thoroughly
  3. Add the carrot, banana, nuts and raisins and mix again
  4. Spoon into a cake tin, greased and lined with baking paper and level the surface
  5. Bake for 45-55 minutes at 190°C, until golden and firm to the touch and you can pull out knife from the center, clean
  6. To make the topping mix ingredients together and spread over the cake once cooled. Place pecan halves on top to decorate

 

Baked bananas with vanilla

Almonds are another great source of skin feeding vitamin E, along with healthy fats, vitamin B2 and magnesium. Coconut yoghurt is an amazing dairy-free alternative to conventional yoghurt but still contains those beneficial live bacteria to help keep your digestive system healthy. It is available in most supermarkets now, so try it if you haven’t already!

Baked-bananas-with-vanilla-

  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 2 tsp honey, maple syrup or a pinch of stevia
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • flaked almonds, toasted
  • Coconut yoghurt or organic Greek yoghurt to serve
  1. Place the bananas in foil, drizzle the honey on top, and the vanilla and lemon juice. Close the foil, seal well.
  2. Bake for 5-10 minutes at 180°C
  3. Meanwhile gently toast the flaked almonds in a pan, being careful not to burn them
  4. Remove the bananas from the foil and transfer to a serving plate, scatter over the almonds and serve with a generous dollop of yoghurt

 

 

References
Wirtz PH1, von Känel R2, Meister RE2, Arpagaus A3, Treichler S3, Kuebler U3, Huber S3, Ehlert U3.Dark chocolate intake buffers stress reactivity in humans. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014 Jun 3;63(21):2297-9.
Yoon HS1, Kim JR2, Park GY3, Kim JE2, Lee DH4, Lee K5, Chung JH6. Cocoa Flavanol Supplementation Influences Skin Conditions of Photo-Aged Women: A 24-Week Double-Blind, Randomized, Controlled Trial. J Nutr. 2015 Nov 18. pii: jn217711.

survive-the-festive-seasonThe party season is here and although this is a wonderful time of year, it can take its toll on your health and your waistline. The combination of overindulgence, late nights and less exercise can leave us feeling sluggish, bloated and out of shape. None of us wants to start the new year feeling run down and unable to fit into our jeans, so this week I am going to advise you how to sail through the party season without the unwanted consequences come January.

 

christmas-dietAvoid December Weight Gain

Firstly, designate yourself a couple of the most special occasions such as Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, when you will simply enjoy yourself and have whatever you want. By limiting yourself to a couple of days, instead of going overboard for the entire period, there is a limit to how much weight you’ll gain. Parties and dinners are frequent in December, so it’s important to make healthier choices at the rest, to avoid that dreaded ‘January moment’ when none of your clothes fit.

On the day of a party, you might be tempted to restrict yourself during the day, so that you can ‘go for it’ when you get there and feel less guilty. This however, is exactly the opposite of what you should do and will usually result in you consuming more calories overall in the end. Instead, have a filling breakfast such as poached eggs on rye toast or porridge with fruit and nuts, and a balanced lunch including slow-releasing carbs like quinoa or oatcakes, protein such as fish, chicken or lentils and some veg or salad. Finally, have a small snack such as an apple or 10 almonds just before you go out. All of this will balance your appetite and your blood sugar levels, meaning you feel in control and are much less likely to overeat or grab the wrong things from the buffet.

If you want to ‘compensate’ for eating slightly more than usual, it is in fact far better to do so the next day. You should naturally feel like eating less anyway due to the body’s inbuilt energy-balance mechanisms, so it will be much easier. You can find my “Day After Plan” for when you have over-indulged and are feeling full and bloated here. This will get you back on track quickly and feeling back to normal the following day.

 

What to Eat & Not Eat

 

  • Steer clear of refined carbohydrates like pastry, French fries, bread and white rice. These provide ‘empty calories’ (energy without many nutrients).

  • Seafood is a great source of protein, omega-3 fats, selenium and zinc so fill up on prawns, salmon, smoked salmon and other fish and shellfish.

  • If you are going to a restaurant, read my post here for tips on what to order.

  • Fill up on salad and vegetables – fill half your plate with salad and veg, especially green veg.

 

And to Drink?

 cheers-christmas

Many of us drink more in December, so it is especially important to be mindful of the safe upper limits of 2-3 units per day for women and 3-4 for men. With alcohol, once again, I would allow yourself a couple of key occasions to let your hair down and then stick to the following advice for the rest of the time.

  • Don’t start drinking until you start eating eat —if you are obliged to have a glass of bubbly straight away, just sip it very slowly. Being tipsy on an empty stomach is your willpower’s worst enemy!
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water
  • Avoid cocktails, which are packed with sugar and high in calories
  • Stick to wine or bubbly, avoid spirits and never mix your drinks
  • Ensure you have at least two alcohol free days per week

 

The Morning After

 christmas-morning-wake-up

The symptoms of a hangover are mainly down to dehydration, because alcohol is a potent diuretic, making you lose water (by going to the loo more!). Rehydration is therefore essential to your recovery! Start your day with a cleansing hot water with lemon, then drink plenty of water throughout the day; coconut water is also an excellent re-hydrator. If your energy is flagging, sip on a Beauty & Go Vitality for an instant pick-me-up.

Don’t be tempted by that greasy fry up, it is not the answer and will make you feel even more sluggish. Instead stick to healthy carbs and protein and eat little and often to rebalance your blood sugar, which alcohol disrupts. Scrambled eggs with spinach and mushrooms or healthy buckwheat pancakes make great ‘morning after’ breakfasts. For more ideas, click here. You can also try a Beauty & Go Detox drink, which supports natural detoxification processes, and will help your liver to flush out the alcohol.

 

Stay Active

 walking-in-the-snow

Most people are less active during December compared to the rest of the year. Busy schedules mean that workouts fall to the wayside, cold weather makes outdoor activities less appealing and we tend to use the car, tube or bus more and walk less due to the same. If you can stay active the benefits include more energy, better sleep, reduced stress levels and you will be less likely to gain weight. Here are some tips:

  • Move your evening workout to the morning or lunchtime if your evenings are packed.
  • If you work out the rest of the year, fit in at least one workout per week to keep your fitness levels from dropping off too much.
  • If you can’t make it to the gym, find other ways to build activity into your day. Walking is the easiest and you can fit in short 15-minute bursts when you have time.
  • Use a pedometer or fitband to measure your steps. You are aiming for 10 thousand per day, which can burn an extra 400-500 calories.
  • Long walks with friends and family are lovely over the Christmas period. You can offset a few of the average 7000 calories reportedly consumed on the big day!

Your Skin

 winter-skin

Late nights, alcohol and a less healthy diet combined with the cold weather and central heating can take their toll on our skin at this time of year. Here are some tips for keeping your skin glowing throughout December and beyond:

  • Staying hydrated will help keep your skin from drying out, so drink up. You need 1.5-2 litres of fluids per day plus an extra glass for every alcoholic drink you have. Herbal and fruit teas count and are perfect in the cold weather. You can also make a hot version of ‘spa water’ such as hot water with slices of lemon and orange or my current favourite; hot water with apple slices and cinnamon sticks.
  • Moisturise your skin from within by including essential fats from foods like salmon, avocadoes, nuts and seeds every day. A daily Beauty & Go will provide collagen and hyaluronic acid, which both help to keep skin supple and elastic from the inside out.
  • Don’t forget your fruit and vegetables! At this time of year, canapés and other party foods can mean we miss out on our daily servings. However, you actually need the antioxidants even more to protect against damage from late nights, alcohol etc. Make an extra effort to include at least 5-7 servings and add an antioxidant boost with a Beauty & Go drink, which contains powerful MacroAntioxidants®.
  • Eat chocolate! A recent study found that cocoa helped improve skin condition and elasticity and reduced skin roughness and wrinkles in Korean women. Unfortunately the sugar in most chocolate bars will have the opposite effect, so stick to raw chocolate or cocoa.
  • If you wake up with tired, dull-looking skin, a Beauty & Go Vitality drink can instantly wake up both you and your skin. Beauty & Go Vitality contains energising ingredients such as guarana, ginseng, green tea and coenzyme Q10 to give you and your skin a much needed energy boost the morning after.

References
Yoon HS1, Kim JR2, Park GY3, Kim JE2, Lee DH4, Lee K5, Chung JH6. Cocoa Flavanol Supplementation Influences Skin Conditions of Photo-Aged Women: A 24-Week Double-Blind, Randomized, Controlled Trial. J Nutr. 2015 Nov 18. pii: jn217711.

winter-blues

Winter is most definitely on its way and for some of us the dark days and cold weather are reflected in our mood at this time of year. In fact, many of us in the UK report experiencing some degree of the ‘Winter Blues’.

Symptoms include less energy, lack of motivation, low mood and the urge to stay in bed and hide away. This is due to the fact that as animals, we are genetically programmed to go into hibernation mode at this time of year, so it is completely natural to feel like slowing down. Some simple lifestyle ‘tweaks’ can be all it takes to re-energise and lift you up again. Here is my advice on how to look after your mind, body and soul, to get you bouncing through to spring.

Exercise is Key!

winter-exercice

A 35-minute brisk walk five times per week has been shown in studies to help with mild to moderate depression. The great thing is you can squeeze this into your lunch hour so don’t have to make time for more time-consuming activities like the gym. Exercising in the middle of the day (or first thing in the morning) and being outside are also more beneficial, due to the exposure to natural daylight.

Any form of cardiovascular exercise gets your heart pumping, improves circulation, which helps prevent cold hands and feet and will also raise your core body temperature. It also releases happy brain chemicals, which is why it has this amazing mood-lifting effect.

When it is raining or just too miserable to go outside, don’t use this as an excuse to ditch the exercise! Instead, try exercising at home if you simply can’t face leaving the house – there are plenty of workout videos on-line. Another option is to try hot yoga or hot Pilates as a guaranteed way to warm up fast!

stay-connected2

Stay Connected

Don’t be tempted to hide away, making the effort to go out and see people will increase your sense of connectedness and well being. Research has proven that people with stronger social networks are healthier and happier, so arrange a trip to the cinema, go ice-skating or invite friends round for some home-cooked, warming food.

Taking up a new hobby has been shown to help people with seasonal depression by providing both a distraction and enjoyment. It could be something crafty like knitting, something musical such as singing or playing an instrument or something active such as a dance class.

Eat Well

It may be tempting to over-indulge in comfort foods at this time of year, but being mindful of what you eat is especially important during winter to help your immune system fight off bugs. It will also help prevent that dreaded feeling in January when you realise your jeans won’t do up. Instead of using winter as an excuse to fill up on junk food, indulge in healthy, warming, comfort foods like soups, stews and porridge. See my Autumn Foods post for some recipe inspiration (Link to Autumn foods and recipes).

Fill Up on Healthy Carbs

Most of us crave carbohydrates more when it’s cold, because we need the energy they provide to help keep us warm. Include healthy carbohydrate foods with all your meals, especially at breakfast and lunch to fuel you through your day. For breakfast porridge is my ‘go-to’ winter warmer at this time of year, I love experimenting with different delicious toppings. My current favourites are fig and chocolate (Recipe here) and coconut, banana and almond butter. Other healthy carbs to include are rye bread, buckwheat, sugar-free mueslis and granolas, oatcakes, sweet potatoes, barley, quinoa, pulses, wholegrain rice and wild rice.

fig-porridge2

The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is essential for helping ward off depression and keeping our immune systems strong. 90% of our total vitamin D comes from the action of sunlight on the skin, but unfortunately from October to April, the light is not of the correct wavelength for stimulating any vitamin D production! If we build up adequate stores during the rest of the year it should carry us through, but many of us don’t and become deficient during winter. It is therefore advisable to include plenty of oily fish in your diet, which are the best dietary source of vitamin D. Mushrooms, eggs, some fortified foods, soya and dairy also contain small amounts. You could also include a supplement during winter as an ‘insurance policy’, especially if you’ve had limited sun exposure for any reason or have dark skin.

Raise the happy Serotonin

Eating foods containing the amino acid tryptophan in combination with healthy carbs (see above) will help your body to produce the happy chemical serotonin. The best food sources of tryptophan are pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds, hazelnuts, almonds, spinach and other green leafy vegetables, chicken, turkey, tofu, bananas, avocado and lentils. Include some of these every day, especially in the evenings, as they will also aid restful sleep.

Your Environment

listen-music-drinking-winter

Your sense of smell is directly linked to the limbic system in the brain, which affects emotions, so you can use scents to lift your mood. Citrus smells like orange and lime are uplifting, while ginger and basil are energising. Clary sage is great for soothing the nerves and aiding deep and restful sleep.

Music is another great way to lift your mood and research backs this up, finding that music can actually raise levels of the reward chemical dopamine in the brain by 9%. Dedicate yourself a few minutes every day. Put on your favorite music and relax while enjoying your daily Beauty & Go!

Some people find that light therapy can really help at this time of year. You can use a light box emitting bright light during the day to boost energy and mood. Alarm clocks are also available which simulate sunrise, making getting up when it’s still dark a little easier.

Research has found that staying warm can reduce the winter blues by a whopping 50%! Eating warm foods, plenty of hot drinks and wearing warm clothes will all help.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

If your symptoms are more serious or are getting in the way of leading a normal life, it could be a sign of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, a type of seasonal depression thought to affect about 2 million people in the UK. If you think you might have SAD or are feeling depressed, please go and see your GP for advice.

diets-no

Diets don’t work!

Scientific research (and my own experience as a nutritionist) have proven time and time again that although some diets may lead to weight-loss in the short term, this is almost invariably re-gained in the long term, when people revert to their previous eating habits. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but a long-term, balanced diet and lifestyle really is the only way to stay slim and healthy.

This doesn’t stop new diets cropping up in the media on a constant basis. The problem with this is that it causes a lot of confusion – often to the point that people are so confused they give up all together. What is important to understand is that messages from the diet industry are separate from (and very often conflicting with) the advice from health professionals, who are giving impartial and science-based advice.

Having said that, there are some different principles from the various diets out there that can be useful – but also definitely many that are not! Lets have a look at some of these and discover the pros and cons.

 

The Vegan Diet

vegan-diet

A vegan diet involves eating absolutely no animal derived products at all, so meat, dairy, eggs, fish, all animal-derived products such as gelatine and even honey are off the menu. The diet is based on fruits, vegetables, pulses, nuts and grains. Veganism is not just about diet, it is typically an entire lifestyle and set of values about avoiding cruelty and harm to animals and protecting the planet.

 

Advantages

  • A balanced, plant-based diet is nutritionally excellent
  • Higher in fibre, antioxidants, vitamin C and lower in saturated fat
  • Reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes
  • Vegans are slimmer
  • Reduces your impact on the planet and cruelty to animals
  • Can incorpórate some vegan principles e.g. meat-free days, plant milks, avoid products tested on animals etc.

Disadvantages

  • Have to make a conscious effort to get adequate protein, vitamin D, zinc, calcium, B12 and iron and omega-3, although all of this is possible
  • Can be awkward eating out or as a dinner guest

Palaeolithic

paleolithic-diet

Based on the ‘hunter-gatherer’ diet that our Stone Aged ancestors would have probably eaten, 2 million years ago, the Paleo diet involves avoiding all grains, beans, potatoes, dairy, sugar, caffeine and alcohol. The diet is based on meat, eggs, fish, fruit, vegetables and nuts. The theory is that this is how we are genetically programmed to eat, as our genes have not evolved as quickly as farming and food production methods over the last few centuries. Proponents claim that our inability to metabolise ‘new foods’ is the reason for modern-day health problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

 

Advantages

  • Reducing sugar, alcohol, caffeine and processed foods is good advice, but can be done without the rest!

Disadvantages

  • High meat consumption (recent WHO reports have confirmed we should reduce meat intakes)
  • High in saturated fat
  • Low in fibre and healthy carbohydrates
  • Very unsociable and time-consuming, unsustainable long-term
  • Cutting out major food groups risks nutrient deficiencies
  • The ‘theories’ this diet is based on are not supported by science

The GI Diet

GI-diet

This diet was in fashion several years ago, but I have included it because it has some solid science behind it and some great principles to incorporate into a healthy diet. GI stands for glycaemic index, which is a system for measuring the speed at which the body breaks down carbohydrate foods into glucose (sugar), the body’s source of energy. Foods are ranked from 1-100, glucose has the maximum score of 100 and all other carbohydrates are measured against this.

High GI carbs, like sugar, white bread or cornflakes, are digested rapidly, causing an immediate and sharp rise in blood sugar levels. Low GI carbs on the other hand, such as oats or rye bread, take longer to digest and therefore release their sugar slowly and gradually into the bloodstream, giving longer-lasting, sustained energy and balanced blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels are balanced our mood, appetite and energy levels are more consistent. The highs and lows of blood sugar produced by eating high-GI carbohydrates lead to sugar cravings, irregular appetite and fluctuations in mood and energy levels.

Although GI only applies to carbohydrates, the diet also advocates healthy protein and fat sources, both of which slow down carbohydrate digestion, reducing the overall GI of a meal.

Advantages

  • The combination of wholegrain carbs, protein and healthy fats is the perfect balance
  • Improved energy and mood
  • Reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes
  • Reduced cravings, more control over appetite
  • No cutting out of whole food groups
  • Can still eat out and enjoy food
  • Scientifically proven

Disadvantages

  • Looking up GI scores is time-consuming but not necessary
  • Having ‘rules’ can be too strict for some people

Fasting Diets

beauty-and-go-tentempie-chica-joven-con-hambre

The idea of only dieting on some days is appealing, as knowing you can indulge in your ‘favourites’ tomorrow, makes the deprivation seem more bearable. The most popular fasting diet is the 5:2 regime, which involves five days of normal eating, and two (non-consecutive) fasting days, when you eat a quarter of your recommended daily calorie quota; 500 calories for women and 600 for men. Other plans involve ‘feasting’ and ‘fasting’ on alternate days. Proponents of fasting regimes claim other health benefits including making us live longer and reducing various disease risks.

Calorie restriction has actually been around for decades, with animal studies showing that it does help animals live longer and be healthier. For humans though, the evidence is limited – some small studies have found improved ‘markers of aging’, such as insulin levels and body temperature, but in terms of increasing life expectancy, we simply don’t know yet, because they have not followed people for long enough to find out!

 

Advantages

  • Does not cut out particular foods/food groups
  • People report that they find it easy to follow

Disadvantages

  • Could encourage an unhealthy relationship with food or disordered eating
  • Can cause weakness, dizziness or poor concentration on fasting days
  • May disrupt metabolism and appetite
  • Dangerous for diabetics and anyone who has suffered with an eating disorder

 

High Protein, Low Carb diets

HIGH-PROTEIN-LOW-CARB

Low-carbohydrate diets became popular about ten years ago, with the second release of the Atkins Diet book, the most well known low carb diet (the first time, it was not as popular). Many variations of low carb diets have arisen since and a ‘fear or carbs’ and the belief that “carbs make you fat” are now pretty widespread.

These diets involve drastically cutting down carbohydrate foods like bread, rice, oats, pasta, starchy vegetables and grains, and even limiting fruits, which are carbohydrates. This causes the body to go into a metabolic state called ‘ketosis’, which is when the body switches from burning glucose as it’s main energy source to fragments of fats called ketones.  It is a normal bodily process, however it is usually only used as a ‘back-up plan’, to help the body survive during emergencies, when no food is available. This results in rapid weight loss, which is one reason these diets have been popular, especially amongst celebrities.

 

Advantages

  • People report feeling less deprived if they can eat foods like fried eggs, cheese, cream and steak

Disadvantages

  • Many vital nutrients missed out including fibre, vitamins and minerals
  • High in saturated fat
  • High in animal foods and meat
  • Side effects of ketosis include bad breath, insomnia, nausea and weakness
  • Difficult to maintain long-term, unsociable
  • Causes unfounded ‘fear of carbs’

Clean Eating

clean-eating

Clean eating involves eating unprocessed foods in their most natural and unadulterated state or as close to that as possible. The idea is that the same foods will also be higher in nutrients, as well as being seasonal and better for the environment. Clean eating is less of a diet and more of a long-term approach or philosophy towards food, encompassing being mindful of what you put in your body and also considering the origins of your food.

The diet is based around plenty of fruit and veg, wholegrains, pulses, nuts, seeds and healthy fats like olive oil and avocadoes. Organic, free-range eggs, dairy, wild fish and grass-fed meats are included in small amounts by some people. Processed foods, ‘white foods’ (white bread, flour, rice etc.), refined sugar, trans fats, food additives and artificial sweeteners are all avoided. Some people take it to the next level and avoid dairy, gluten, caffeine and even animal products completely, but this is not compulsory – it’s up to you how far you want to take it.

 

Advantages

  • No food groups are banned
  • Flexible – can take it as far as you can/want to
  • Balanced, high in plant-foods and nutrients
  • Low in meat, sugar and processed foods
  • Better for the environment

Disadvantages

  • Could be more expensive
  • Could led to fussiness or be unsociable

 

Did you know...?

Beauty & Go drinks are low in calories! They only have 35 kcal for every 100 ml and its sweetener comes from the stevia leaf. Besides, they are suitable for celiacs, diabetics and pregnant or lactating women and don’t have artificial colours or preservatives… so they are perfect to include in any healthy diet!

beauty-drink-formulabeauty-drink-revive-detox

 

healthy-autumn

Autumn is well under way, the leaves are changing, the evenings are darker and the weather is decidedly chilly. Now is the perfect time for snuggling up, all warm and cosy indoors with some comforting food. Comfort food doesn’t have to be unhealthy though! In fact, the wonderful array of foods in season at the moment are just right for cooking delicious, healthy and comforting meals. This week is therefore all about some of the healthy foods that autumn has to offer and some delicious, healthy recipe ideas to use them in.

Figs

Figs are an amazing fruit in season now – they are great for breakfast, healthy deserts and are also wonderful in salads. Their beautiful jewel coloured flesh not only looks gorgeous on your plate, but is a sign of their high nutrient value. Deeply coloured fruit and vegetables in general (think beetroot, blueberries, plums, kale etc.), are richer in beneficial plant compounds, and figs are no exception. They are an excellent source of antioxidants, to protect your skin against ageing and are rich in minerals potassium, manganese and iron, along with vitamins A, B and C. They also provide a good amount of fibre.

TIP

Figs do not ripen after picking so avoid unripe figs. Choose figs that are dark in colour, plump and soft but with unbroken skins.

fig-porridge2

Recipe:

Fig and Chocolate Porridge

2 servings

  • 80g porridge oats
  • 2 dried figs, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 tsp cacao nibs
  • 1 tsp raw cacao powder
  • 400ml almond milk
  • 6 small squares 80% dark chocolate or raw chocolate, chopped
  • 2 or 3 fresh figs, chopped
  1. Put first 5 ingredients into a pan and cook until you have a nice creamy porridge, adding water as necessary. I like to cook the porridge for at least 10 mins so it is extra creamy.
  2. Remove from heat and stir through the chocolate, top with fresh figs and serve immediately.

Beetroot

Beetroot is another richly coloured vegetable with corresponding health boosting powers. It is high in beta-carotene, folic acid and fibre and regular consumption can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Regular consumption of beetroot juice has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve the health of blood vessels, both predictors of stroke and heart attacks. Beetroot juice also helps people to acclimatise to high altitudes so if you are planning a trip to Machu Picchu or Mount Everest, get drinking!

Most of us are used to pre-cooked beetroots, but buying fresh beetroot is a different thing altogether and worth the extra effort. Beetroot can be boiled in their skin, is delicious roasted in the oven, and it makes a cleansing juice ingredient. Wear rubber gloves when preparing beetroot to avoid pink-stained hands!

beetroot

TIP

Don’t throw away the leaves, beetroot greens are a rich source of iron, magnesium and calcium. They can be cooked and eaten in the same way as spinach

Artichokes

Artichokes are a wonderful vegetable available at this time of year, with many health benefits. French or Globe artichokes are a super source of vitamin c, folic acid, potassium and fibre. They work especially well in salads and pasta.

Artichokes leaves are used medicinally for digestion, stimulating liver function and bile flow, helping to relieve indigestion and bloating. Some of these benefits may also be present in the vegetables.

TIP

When choosing, the heavier ones are fresher due to their higher water content and the leaves should be tightly shut.

artichokes

 

Jerusalem Artichoke

Jerusalem artichokes are not actually related to French artichokes, but they are both in season now and have many of their own health benefits. Jerusalem artichoke is one of the best pre-biotic foods, feeding the good bacteria in your gut, encouraging them to multiply and promoting intestinal and general health. For further information on the benefits of prebiotics click here. They also contain vitamin C, potassium and iron. They can be cooked many ways; roasted, steamed, sautéed or boiled, and can even be eaten raw in salads.

jerusalem-artichoke

Kale

A well know ‘superfood’ kale has become popular in the last few years and rightly so as it is nutritionally rich. It has a high mineral content, providing iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium. It is a good source of the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, as well as being rich in protective plant chemicals such as sulphoraphane, which may protect against cancer.

Kale can be tough, so preparing it well is key to enjoying it – unlike other vegetables it is nicer when soft, than ‘al dente’.  As a vegetable side dish, steam the kale until soft and then sauté in a little oil with chilli and garlic. Kale also works well in many recipes, as a substitute for cabbage or spinach.

Recipe:

Kale Pesto

4 servings

  • 1/2 cup of toasted walnuts
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 4 large handfuls of kale, blanched
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp pink salt
  • Black pepper
  1. Place everything in a food processor
  2. Blitz till it forms a nice paste, add water to thin if necessary.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning
  4. Serve tossed into courgetti or spelt spaghetti, topped with toasted walnuts or pine nuts and slow-roasted cherry tomatoes
  5. Keeps in the fridge for a few days and freezes well

kale-pesto

Blackberries

Berries are high flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that protects the body and skin against free radical damage and aging. Berries are also an excellent source of vitamin C – 1 cup provides more than 100% RDA. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant itself, protecting cells from free radical damage. Berries also contain less natural fruit sugar than other fruits.

TIP

Include a serving of fresh berries every day.

Blackberry-Pear-and-Pecan-Bircher

Recipe:

Blackberry, Pear and Pecan Bircher

2 servings

  • 1 pear, cored and chopped
  • A handful of blackberries
  • 150ml almond milk
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 20g pecan nuts, chopped
  • Maple syrup (optional)
  1. Put the oats, cinnamon and almond milk in a bowl, mix well and leave in the fridge overnight
  2. Top with pear, blackberries, pecans and drizzle of maple syrup the next day and enjoy!

Orange vegetables

Orange vegetables such as butternut squash, pumpkin and sweet potatoes are all in season now. They contain particularly high levels of beta-carotene and other carotenoids, which give them their lovely colour. Beta-carotene is converted in the body to vitamin A, an essential nutrient for healthy skin and eyes and for the immune system. Beta-carotene itself also helps to prevent free radical damage, as it has powerful antioxidant effects. Orange veg also provide vitamin C, for boosting collagen production, vitamin E and a host of protective plant compounds. Just 100g of sweet potato provides the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A and is a great source of slow-releasing, healthy carbohydrates.

Butternut squash and sweet potatoes are both delicious baked and mashed with a grating of nutmeg as a warming side dish. They are also wonderful cubed and roasted in salads.

Recipe:

Superfood Frittata

Makes 1 large frittata, or 4 portions

  • 1 medium sweet potato, cut into small cubes,
  • 2 handfuls of kale, woody stalks removed
  • 1 bunch spring onions, chopped
  • 1 chopped red chilli
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 6 eggs
  1. Toss the sweet potato in 1tsp oil and roast in the oven 20 mins or until soft. Allow to cool completely
  2. Meanwhile, steam kale until soft about 10-15 mins, and roughly chop. Allow to cool completely
  3. Stir-fry onions, garlic and chilli for about 5 mins. Allow to cool completely
  4. Beat 6 eggs in a bowl add 2 tbsp chopped parsley and all the vegetables, once they have completely cooled.
  5.  Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Cook 5 mins or so in a non-stick pan and then place under the grill to cook the top.
  7. Keeps in the fridge for 2 days, makes a great portable lunch.

TIP

How to choose a butternut squash. The skin should be very tough and hard, if you can push your fingernail into the rind it is unripe and will be low on flavour. It should feel heavy, due to the high water content and generally the bigger they are the more flavour they will have.

frittata

Recipe:

Easy Butternut Squash Soup

2 servings

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1.5 tsp vegetable bouillon or 1 veg stock cube
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 200ml boiling water
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  1. Peel and cube the squash, toss in 1tsp oil and roast at 180°C until soft (approx 30 mins)
  2. Put in a blender with the other ingredients except the seeds and blend until smooth
  3. Toast seeds in a pan and sprinkle on top

woman-eating-butternut-soup

Beauty & Go drinks contain plenty of great autumnal fruits and vegetables to feed your skin, including artichoke (Skin Detox), grapes and berries (Skin Revive), pear (Skin Brilliance) and apples (Skin Vitality). Include one to three per day as part of your autumn health and beauty regime.

 

d-stress-your-skin

We all know how stress makes us feel! Generally pretty lousy, affecting things like our mood, concentration, energy and sleep. But did you know that stress also has a direct impact on your looks, including the health of your skin? Exciting new research has uncovered a direct link between the brain and the skin and scientists are starting to uncover exactly how stress can affect the health of our skin.

So lets start by having a look at what they have discovered and then most importantly, what you can do about it!

The Science of Stress

science-of-stressWhen we are faced with a stressful event, the body releases the stress hormone cortisol. In the short term cortisol is necessary to help us deal with the cause of our stress. However when stress becomes chronic or long-term, as it so often does with modern lifestyles, it has various negative effects in the body and on the skin.

Cortisol actually leads to collagen loss in the skin by affecting the cells that produce collagen, called fibroblasts (1). Collagen is the main structural protein of our skin, and is essential for maintaining its strength, firmness and elasticity, so when we lose collagen we get more wrinkles and sagging. In addition, cortisol makes the skin slower to heal and repair itself.

Another way that chronic stress affects our skin is that it leads to an increase in free radical formation, producing more than the body’s inbuilt antioxidant systems can deal with. This results in what’s known as oxidative stress, leading to cell damage and skin ageing (2).

The Brain-Skin Axis

stress-skin-woman

You may have heard before that the digestive system and the brain are linked and now it has been discovered that so are the skin and the brain! The so-called ‘brain-skin axis’ involves a complex network between the nervous system, the immune system and the skin (3).

Receptors have been discovered in the skin, which ‘talk to’ the central nervous system and modify things like hormones and mediators of inflammation. These chemical messengers bring about changes in the skin including slowing down healing and repair, reduced barrier function, impaired resistance to infection and suppressed immune system function (3).

The Solution

skin-revive-grapesThe good news is that we can make changes to diet and lifestyle to minimise these effects and the more we understand the mechanisms, the more we can develop preventative strategies. For example, we have heard that stress increases free radical production, so eating a diet high in antioxidants is a must.

Certain substances in foods can actually help counteract some of the specific changes that occur in the immune system. Resveratrol for example, found in red grapes, red wine and Beauty & Go Skin Revive reverses some of the damaging effects of the stress response. Quercetin found in onions and apple skin helps regulate the immune system by reducing some of the inflammatory chemicals produced during stress.

Eating a wide range of plant foods including at least 7 portions of fruit and vegetables every day, a daily Beauty & Go which contains high levels of antioxidants and MacroAntioxidants (LINK), and plenty of nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and wholegrains is the best way to ensure you get these beneficial compounds in your diet. Including some of the stress-busting foods below should also help.

 

Stress Busting Foods

blueberriesBlueberries

Rich in flavonoids, which stimulate the production of nitric oxide, a natural substance which causes the blood vessels to relax. This in turn improves blood flow and oxygen delivery to all parts of the body, including the brain. Also high in vitamin C to support the body’s stress system and essential for collagen production.

cocoa

Cocoa

Contains high levels of magnesium, which helps us feel relaxed. Also contains a substance called phenylethylamine (PEA), which is the neurotransmitter (brain chemical) released when we fall in love, leading to feelings of bliss and euphoria. Stick to cacao powder, cacao nibs or raw chocolate though to avoid the sugar found in chocolate bars.

eggsEggs

Rich in choline, an important substance for healthy brain function. Choline is needed for acetylcholine formation, a brain chemical needed for memory, learning and balanced mood.

 

WholegrainsWholegrains

A diet rich in wholegrains such as brown rice, wholemeal pasta or granary bread helps stress-prone people cope better with stressful situations according to a Dutch study (4). These foods contain complex carbs and vitamin B3, which trigger the release of the happy hormone serotonin in the brain.

 

oily-fishOily Fish

Rich in the omega-3 fat DHA, which is vital for a healthy brain and nerve function and to help balance emotions. High fish consumption is linked with reduced risk of depression and anxiety. Oily fish also contain vitamin D – low levels are linked to depression. Astaxanthin is a compound in oily fish which can actually promote collagen production.

 

brocoliBroccoli, Spinach and Kale

High in B vitamins, magnesium, iron and folate. Magnesium has a relaxing effect on the body and low folate levels have been linked to depression. Also high in antioxidants to mop-up the extra free radicals produced under stress.

 

cinamon-nutmegNutmeg & Cinnamon

Nutmeg contains a substance called myristicin which aids tranquillity. Cinnamon helps balance blood sugar to help keep mood stable. Nutmeg can be grated into soups, porridge and hot drinks and cinnamon is delicious on porridge and hot drinks.

Some Foods to Avoid

sugar-coffee

Sugar and refined carbohydrates – these lead to blood sugar highs and lows, which mean that mood is less stable. When blood sugar becomes too low it triggers cortisol release.

Caffeine – also disrupts blood sugar balance and causes release of the stress hormone adrenalin. Avoid completely if your stress levels are high, otherwise limit to 1 coffee per day.

Stress Relieving Techniques

reflexivo-beauty-and-go

Yoga and meditation are scientifically proven to improve sleep and reduce stress levels. Did you know that regular meditation also helps weight loss and even increases success and creativity at work! Try 15 minutes per day and feel the benefits for yourself.

healthy-woman

Cardiovascular exercise is as effective as medication for treating mild to moderate depression and releases stress-relieving brain chemicals. Be moderate though, as strenuous exercise actually puts stress on the body and accelerates ageing.

Lack-of-sleep

Sleep deprivation is another form of stress on the body, and is unfortunately common these days. Lack of sleep has been shown to suppress the immune system and also to affect the protective barrier function of the skin (5). Prioritising sleep is therefore another must.

References
1. Kahan V1, Andersen ML, Tomimori J, Tufik S. Stress, immunity and skin collagen integrity: evidence from animal models and clinical conditions. Brain Behav Immun. 2009 Nov;23(8):1089-95.
2. Kammeyer A1, Luiten RM2. Oxidation events and skin aging. Ageing Res Rev. 2015 May;21:16-29.
3. Hunter HJ1, Momen SE2, Kleyn CE1. The impact of psychosocial stress on healthy skin. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2015 Jul;40(5):540-6.
4. Markus CR1, Panhuysen G, Tuiten A, Koppeschaar H, Fekkes D, Peters ML.Does Carbohydrate-rich, Protein-poor Food Prevent a Deterioration of Mood and Cognitive Performance of Stress-prone Subjects when Subjected to a Stressful Task? Appetite. 1998 Aug;31(1):49-65
5. Kahan V1, Andersen ML, Tomimori J, Tufik S. Can poor sleep affect skin integrity? Med Hypotheses. 2010 Dec;75(6):535-7.